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Restorative justice scheme comes to Kirklees

A new programme to allow offenders to be held to account by their victims is starting in Kirklees.

Restorative Justice gives victims the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers to their questions and to give the offender the opportunity to explain why they committed the crime and the chance to repair the harm. Restorative Justice holds offenders to account, personally and directly, and helps victims to get on with their lives. The victim has a voice in the process and the outcome, and more than 90% of victims who have used the scheme would recommend it to others.

Cllr Andrew Marchington, Chair of the Safer Stronger Communities Partnership said “This programme of work is an excellent example of partnership working. It takes different forms and includes direct mediation where a victim and offender meet following careful preparation by trained mediators. At least two mediators are present and the location is agreed beforehand by everyone involved. The mediators ensure that the process is safe for all concerned”.

Restorative Justice can also use indirect mediation which involves trained mediators passing information between victim and offender verbally or by letter. There can also be group meetings and reparation work where the offender does something productive to repair the harm.

Mediation helps both victim and offender by easing anger and fear of further crime in victims, and enabling offenders to see the affects of their crime and give them the opportunity to make amends.

Restorative justice has a significant impact on reducing re-offending rates and is operating throughout Kirklees and prisons in the north of England. A similar scheme is run by Wakefield.

Kirklees Police Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent John Robins, said: “Restorative justice is about putting things right. When someone does something wrong; they should play a part in putting it right again. It can be about the victim having a chance to confront the offender and ask them questions about why they committed the offence. It can give the victim the chance to explain to the offender about the impact of the offence.

"It is also a way of getting the offender to physically put things right, like painting over graffiti or repairing a damaged fence. By having their questions answered, I think the scheme will allow victims of crime to put the offence behind them. Often an understanding of why something has happened and who did it, can reduce the fear of crime and enable that person to move on with their lives."

"The offenders involved will also see the harm they are causing within their neighbourhoods and realise the impact of their actions. By working with our partners in this way, we can continue to improve the quality of life for everyone in Kirklees and I see this scheme as a key element in that. Justice should be seen to be done, offenders need to put things right - restorative justice does just that.”

Partners in the Restorative Justice scheme include the Probation Service, West Yorkshire Police, The Prison Service, KASBU, KHN, Victim Support, Kirklees Council Community Safety Team, Lifeline and Drugs Intervention Programme.

Liz.Bramley from West Yorkshire Probation Service, said: “We are pleased to support the implementation of Restorative Justice in Kirklees, which gives victims the opportunity to have a voice in the Criminal Justice system. We also know that schemes like this can contribute to the reduction of re-offending rates amongst even the most prolific of offenders. Nothing is more powerful in promoting behaviour change than for an offender to hear first hand the impact their behaviour has had on the victim, and for them to have the opportunity to make reparation where this is appropriate.”


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